Farm Implements Complete the Story of Farming Heritage
(Page 3 of 4)
I loved the look of that big old machine, I loved the power of it – the way it shook the tractor when it was running stationary – and I loved the rhythmic racket it made. I also found the process immensely satisfying, especially since I could sell what hay I didn’t need, bringing in some well needed cash. That first summer was a good one, as I had three cuts of hay off the fields and sold several hundred bales of lovely, sweet smelling meadow hay. The £60 baler paid for itself in just the first few hours!
So that was it, the implement bug had bitten, and I wanted more. I bought a chain harrow that had come apart at the edges for two pints of beer off a local farmer who was rather too fond of the “loony juice” to know what was a good idea and what wasn’t.
Adding an Acrobat to the line-up
Then I bought the Vicon Acrobat. Up until then I had borrowed a haybob (what we call a PTO-powered hay turner). But I really needed one of my own, as you know how it is with harvesting equipment: Everyone wants it all at the same time. I was offered a haybob for £10 (about $16), but it would only turn the hay, due to the fact that someone (not me I might add) had reversed it into a wall and bent it so that it would no longer row the hay. So I had that, but I was struggling to make the hay into rows ready for the baler until someone offered me the Vicon Acrobat for the hefty sum of £8.
To me, this was a great opportunity. A fully working secondhand haybob would have set me back up to £300 (about $475) as those machines were still being used by the proper farmers. However, most proper farmers hadn’t used a Vicon Acrobat since flared trousers and shirts with big collars were in fashion, so they were virtually being given away.
I remember picking up the Acrobat with my tractor. It was a bizarre thing, a trailed implement with four big spiky wheels that could be put into an array of different positions – supposedly to turn hay (which was a lie, as it just sort of rolled it up) or to make it into one or two rows. Unfortunately the plate on the implement illustrating exactly which spiky wheel should go where to do what job was totally obscured by rust, so I had to experiment with finding the best way to transport the thing along the road.
I had to drive along a piece of fairly narrow main road to get home, and I shall never forget that just in the narrowest bit, along came a bus. On my side was a house, with a big group of well-to-do-looking people outside having afternoon tea. I stuffed into the edge as much as I could and was almost at eye level with these people when I heard a terrible sound. The tines of the Acrobat were scraping unceremoniously along their garden wall, and the more I turned away from the wall, the more the tines dug into the wall and the worse the terrible racket became. I heard gasps from the owners. I’m not sure if they were gasps of laughter or horror – I didn’t stay to find out. I shouted “sorry” and rushed away, thinking, “thank heavens it was a wall I scraped, not a car!”